I’ve always found money to be a relative kind of thing. So when one of the questions is ‘did you run out of money’, the answer is more like we ran out of money we were willing to put into this project, against the benefit we thought it would create. But it did cost more than we bargained for, and we did run out, in the sense that there was rarely enough left for the villa after other priorities had been met. So why did that happen?
This might take more than one blog post.
Let’s start with our initial budget. We ludicrously underestimated the cost, getting caught up in the dream and not doing enough thorough research. We were really ignorant at the beginning. We got a ballpark estimate from a geometra who resided in a different city – one that was arranged by the realtor. It was actually not too far off the truth, but we didn’t believe it would actually be so high, as nothing was itemized and he said he made it big so we could get a mortgage that would pay for the construction.
Advice: Use a local geometra, one who knows the contractors in the area. Ask the butcher, the bar owner, various locals who they would recommend. Don’t use the one your realtor gives you; it’s not that they’re unscrupulous, but they are in the business of selling you the house, so you can’t expect objectivity.
Pay the neighbourhood-endorsed geometra to assess the house and get a real contractor’s itemized budget. At this point you still won’t have plans, so the estimate will not be precise in the details, but the buckets will be established. You’ll know whether the entire roof has to actually be replaced right down to every beam (yes), whether there is asbestos in there that requires an expensive hazmat team to remove (yes), whether every window is likely to crumble to dust when you try to remove them for replastering the holes in which they reside (yes).
Then add 30% and see how excited you still are to buy the house.
Nothing puts a damper on dreams faster than seeing the bill. But if it’s really important to you, you’ll figure out a way to pay for it. James W. Frick said Don’t tell me where your priorities are. Show me where you spend your money and I’ll tell you what they are.
That’ll be lesson number two: prioritizing and budgeting.
Hi Shelagh, I just wanted to add my voice and say what a great series this is turning out. Feels like you’ve found your calling! Your super honest revelations are both endearing and incredibly valuable. Complimenti!
Thank you Janine. It’s not a turn I expected to be taking – in life or in the blog – but it’s an interesting twist that readers seem to be enjoying. Me too!
M. A. Hume said:
My theory is purchase of an old wreck for restoration/renovation, is ALWAYS a war between ambition and actuality. Now, in my eighth decade, I have finally tempered my ambitions by checking out other people’s (e.g.BBC’s Restoration Homes on YouTube). Although still, sometimes, the yearning………….
There is something very compelling about ownership, even in the face of all logic. And that weird need to fix up crumbling wrecks, that’s its own addiction. I’m not sure watching other people’s efforts (even the horrendous ones) will ever curb my inclination – but it might temper the more extreme fits of madness.
M. A. Hume said:
Age helps. I still play at designing interior space when the urge strikes, but now new built, and small houses.. Do not despair, you will engage in other house renovation projects, but maybe not as radical as Godzillavilla’s
Luca Bacchi said:
anyhow I believe that engaging yourself with a house is somehow similar to starting a relationship with a partner:
when you fall in love, is really difficult for anybody to keep your feet back down to the earth, and maybe all this has a sense, for you go deep into an experience that otherwise in a “rational” state of mind you would have probably skipped.
If you are able to stop some steps before ruin, as you are certainly doing, seemingly the experience is worth the effort
This says the wise man that is very near to the disaster …
I do feel our experience has been worth the effort, in total. If I’d known how it would turn out, before we bought, I probably would not have done it – but I would be poorer for it in all ways except the money. Godzillavilla was a fantastic life experience that is irreplaceable.
Luca Bacchi said:
you are doing a great job, and I really appreciate that you are able to frankly look at what it happened, and to provide good advice to possible beginners.
Actually often good suggestions are scarce if exist at all.
I would like to be so brave to look with similar clear sight at the situation that I am living at present moment.
I wish to read soon your next posts. Un abbraccio Luca
Feel free to add your own insights, Luca! All advice from experience is useful.